Belgium: Award ceremony for the “Prize Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza for Democracy and Peace”.Ruhumuza | Category: News
This Saturday, March 10, 2012, the first prize “Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza for Democracy and Peace” was released during the International Women’s day celebration, in front of some 300 people gathered in Dendermonde, Belgium.
Created in honor of Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza on March 8, 2011 in Montreal, Canada on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the International Women’s Day and presented on March 12, 2011, the award aims to honor the most distinguished individual in the search for democracy and peace during the past year.
In selecting winners of the first edition, the jury composed of Juan Carrero, former candidate for the Nobel Peace, Mauro Sbolgi, founder and managing director of SIREAS ASBL, and Mary Roger Biloa, editor of Africa International, chose to distinguish Mr. Déogratias Mushayidi whose sentence for life imprisonment was recently affirmed by the Supreme Court of Rwanda but also the couple Martine and Christiaan De Beule.
In his award presenting speech, Mr. Sbolgi emphasized the contrast between the “power of big states that participated in these terrible events in Rwanda and the powerlessness of extraordinary men and women, extremely brave who sacrificed their lives and freedom to change things.” “Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza is one of those examples”, he added.
He justified the choice of Déogratias Mushayidi because of his “Integrity and perseverance in his political struggle” and estimated that Deo Mushyayidi was an example “for all prisoners of conscience, such as those who pay for their being the fact of daring to speak aloud what everyone thinks down.”
With regard to the couple De Beule, they were chosen because of their tireless investment over the last twenty years in the quest for peace in the Great Lakes Region, particularly through the association “SOS Rwanda-Burundi” which defends human rights in the region.
It was then to Mr. Joseph Matata, tireless campaigner for human rights who had the honor to present the trophies to the winners.
In his acceptance speech, Christiaan De Beule felt that it was not to them that “this award was meant to be given in the name of a lady so brave; we have never acted for the glory, but if you honor us now, it is rather a group that you must honor”. “Accepting such a prize imposes an obligation to continue the great work because during the last 17 years the situation has not improved at all”, he added.
Mr. Gerard Semushi Karangwa, Vice President of the party PDP-Imanzi who received the trophy for Deo Mushayidi, expressed his difficulty “to replace and speak for Deo Mushayidi“ and paid tribute to him. For Mr. Karangwa, “those who knew Mushayidi know that he dedicated his life to the cause for which, the efforts he has always deployed are now recognized.”
He felt that this award came “at a particular time because just days after his life sentence by the Supreme Court.” He stated that “such a conviction has not shaken the moral leader of PDP-Imanzi” and that “the fight and determination remain the same” because these prisoners of conscience are encouraged by knowing that “the seeds they have sown for the cause for which they fight, continue to be taken care of by others.”
It was Martine De Beule, overwhelmed by emotion, who concluded the thanksgiving: “This award is also yours, I offer it to you all”, she said to the public, before adding in tears “because you’re fighting as we are so that the people of Rwanda may get away from the misery in which they are held hostage.”
The ceremony was also an opportunity to “pay tribute to all those women who amaze us, these women whose fate has taken away their life partners and who took in their hands alone and with courage the fate of their families, taking care of their children with dignity”, according to Ms. Daphrose Nyirankundwankize, President of RIFDP. “Those women fought so that the world may have a human face, a face more womanish.”
“Here, there is much talk of wage inequality, social inequality, but there are women that is not often, women in black Africa who get up in the morning the child back, to cultivate the field to Kilometers not be safe to return at night, these women face in war, I think especially those in eastern Congo, the women who live only for their survival, these women are forgotten and yet live the humanity. “She has said in her presentation.
She also had a word for Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, “the woman of exceptional courage who abandoned her family for the benefits of all of the Rwandan people, and for women journalists” to which she expressed her admiration.
She ended her speech with an appeal to the women of the congregation to join their space for dialogue and bring the voice of the voiceless but also a call to the men: “support us” she told them, “we cannot take off without men, for sure, but do not discourage us” and to you all “do not remain idly by while our peers are suffering greatly.”
The evening was enriched by many musical and dance shows, including concerts by the promising young artist Rwandan, Regis Bobo; artists Djakhobo and Ben Ngabo and Rwandan traditional dance ballets Intashyo (Netherlands) and Urugwiro.
Translated by Amani Tuyishimye
Original french version by Ruhumuza Mbonyumutwa